Posted in Arugula, Basil, Beets, Biodiversity, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrot, Chard, Companion Plant, Corn, Cucumber, Design - Layout, Determinate, Disease, Disease Resistant, Eggplant, Fava, Fungus, Fusarium Wilt, Go Vertical!, Green Beans, Herbs - Culinary, Medicinal Food Magic!, Hydrozone, Indeterminate, Interplant, Kale, Lettuce, Melon, Mildew, Mulch, Onion, Pepper, Pests, Radish, Squash, Strawberries, Succession, Summer, Tomato, Varieties, Verticillium Wilt, Watering, Zucchini, tagged air, aromatic, arugula, back, basil, beans, beets, biodiversity, bok choi, broccoli, bush, cabbage, cage, canning, carrots, chard, circulation, clean, coastal, cucumber, culinary, damage, determinate, diagonal, disease, Eden Project, eggplant, even ripening, fava, fixing, food forest, front, fruit, fungi, fusarium, garden, ground, Grow Planner for Ipad, growth, harvest, height, herbs, increase, indeterminate, invasive, kale, landscape, lettuce, Mediterranean, melons, mildew, Mother Earth News, mulch, multi row, niche, Nitrogen, North, nutritious, onion, oregano, ornamental, overplant, patch, Patio, pepper, perennial, pest, Plant, pole, productive, radish, repel, rosemary, round, row, sage, Santa Barbara, season, seedless straw, shade, short, single, smaller, SoCal, Soil, space, spinach, squashes, Squidoo, strawberries, succession, summer, sun, super, table, tall, thin, thyme, tips, tomatoes, tree, trellis, underplanting, vegetable, Vegetable Garden Layout, veggie, verticillium, water, wilt, zucchini on February 8, 2012 |
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Whether you are tucking things into niches between ornamental landscape plants, planting a patio patch like in the image, setting up a first time summer garden patch, or replanning your annual garden, here are some great ideas to increase your production!
1. If you have space, and are creating a back, or front, yard food forest, always start with your tree placements first! Determine which veggies grow well with each kind of tree. Santa Barbara Mediterranean Food Forests
2. Keep in mind veggies need sun! 6 to 8 hours, preferably 8! They are making fruit, and often many! That takes energy.
3. Put tall plants to the north (see image below), so they won’t shade the shorties. If there is a partially shaded area, plant your tallest plants on the shaded side so they can reach up to get some sun; put the shorter plants in decreasing heights, in front of them so all get as much light as they can. When you are planting rounds, another batch every few weeks, start in the north or the ‘back’ – the shaded area, and work your way forward.
4. Trellises and tall cages are terrific space savers and keep your plants off the ground out of harm’s way – pests, diseases, damage. Your veggies will be clean, and have more even ripening. Cucumbers, beans, tomatoes. Squashes and melons can be trellised if you provide support for heavy fruits. Even Zucchini can be grown up through cages leaving a lot of ground space for underplantings. Harvesting is a lot easier and certain when those fast growing zuchs are up where you can see them!
- Inefficient Single Row Planting
5. There are rows and there are rows! Single row planting wastes space! Compare the images. If you do rows, plant 2 or 3 different plants in side by side rows, then have your walk way, then another 2 or 3 plants together. Whether you do 2 or 3, or even 4, depends on plant size, your reach, and ease of tending and harvest. Plant taller or medium size plants, like peppers and eggplant, by twos so you can reach in to harvest. Plant shorter smaller plants like lettuces, spinach, strawberries together since they are easy to reach across to harvest. If plants in the rows are the same size, plant the second row plants on the diagonal to the first row plants. That way your rows can be closer together and you can plant more plants!
- Attractive Multi-row Veggie Amphitheatre around the Eden Project restaurant!
6. Rather than rows, biodiversity, mixing things up, confuses pests, stops diseases in their tracks, because they can’t just go from the same plant to the same plant down a row. Since we are not using tractors, there is no need for rows at all, but they can be lovely. The curved rows in the image are behind the Eden Project restaurant outdoor seating! Truly garden to table!
7. If you need only a few plants, rather than designating a separate space for lettuces and littles like radishes, tuck them in here and there on the sunny side under bigger plants! When it gets big enough, remove the sunny side lower leaves of the larger plant to let light in.
8. Plant what you like, and will really eat along with some extra nutritious chards, kales.
9. Plants with the same water needs are good together. Like a salad patch – lettuce, arugula, spinach, bok choy, bunch onions, radish, chards. Putting the things together that you will harvest together saves time! Put carrots at the foot of pole beans.
10. Overplanting can take the fun out of things. Too many zucchini in hot summers, and you are going crazy trying to give away the over large ones you didn’t harvest soon enough. Too many green beans are labor intensive harvesting, takes forever. Planting green beans too close together is hard to harvest, and they mildew more with low air circulation. Overplanting is delicious when you plant lots of lettuces, carrots then harvest what you thin out! That’s baby kales, chard, mini carrots. These are the eat-on-the-spot-in-the-garden types!
11. Traditionally, and if you lived in the North with cold winters, you planted the garden all at once in spring! If your parents did that, you are unthinkingly likely to do it as well. In our SoCal Mediterranean climate, we plant all year though there are warmer and cooler veggie seasons. But each of these seasons are longer, and overlap! It is easy to get 3 plantings in succession IN EACH SEASON! Some plants will grow all year, mostly the ‘winter’ plants in our coastal gardens, for example, beets, broccoli, onions and cabbages. It takes strength to leave open space for successive rounds. But you can do it. Mark that space off, plant temporary fast growers, nitrogen-fixing fava, or lay down some soil feeding mulch like seedless straw. That space will be super productive when its turn comes.
12. Pole plants, have a lot longer production period than bush, like beans! Indeterminate tomatoes are true vines, can last all season long, but are susceptible to Fusarium and Verticillium wilts/fungi diseases. Might be better to plant determinates, limited growth varieties, in succession. That’s plant a few, then in a few weeks a few more, and so on. Let the determinates produce like crazy all at once, pull them when they show signs of the wilts. If you have only a small space available, or want to do canning, then bush plants are for you!
13. Plants that act as perennials in our climate are smart money plants! Broccoli’s for their side shoots, continuous kales and chards.
14. Special needs or companions!
- Eggplants, though heat lovers, love humidity, but not overhead watering. Put them among other medium height plants.
- Basils are great on the sunny sides of tomatoes, and go to table together.
- Corn needs colonies - plant in patches versus rows! Every silk needs pollination because each produces a kernel! The best pollination occurs in clusters or blocks of plants. Consider that each plant only produces 2 to 3 ears, usually 2 good ones. How many can you eat a once? Will you freeze them? The ears pretty much mature within a few days of each other! So, if you are a fresh corn lover, plant successively only in quantities you can eat.
15. Consider herbs for corner, border, or hanging plants. They add a beautiful texture to your garden, are wonderfully aromatic, repel pests! Remember, some of them are invasive, like oregano, culinary thyme. Sage has unique lovely leaves. Choose the right type of rosemary for the space and look you want.
Please be CREATIVE! You don’t have to plant in rows, though that may be right for you. Check out this Squidoo Vegetable Garden Layout page! Check out the Grow Planner for Ipad from Mother Earth News! They may make you very happy! This is a perfectly acceptable way to play with your food.
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Posted in Artichoke, Asparagus, Aspirin, Baking Soda, Community Gardens, Determinate, Disease Resistant, Fertilizer - Sidedressing, Foliar Feeding, Fertilzer, Floating Row Covers, Germinate, Greenhouse, Heat Tolerant, Heirloom, Home Remedies, Indeterminate, Lettuce, Manure, Mildew, Nonfat Powdered Milk, PreSoak, PreSprout, Seeds, SeedSaving, Tomato, Varieties, Veggies!, Winter Plants - Cool Season, tagged All America Selections, artichoke, asparagus, aspirin, baking soda, bare-root, beets, bolt, brocs, bush, cabbages, canning, cauliflower, celery, chard, clean up, coast, community garden, cycle, disease, divide, February, foliar, fungicide, garden, garlic, germicide, germination, Greenhouse, grow light, growth, hardening, harvest, heat, heirloom, horse, humus, hybrid, immune system, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, maintenance, manure, March, Mediterranean, mildew, moisture, Peas, peat, pest, pole, potatoes, potting soil, powdered milk, presprout, pruning, radish, rain, resistant, root, seed, seed soaking, seed-saving, seedling, sidedress, snail, Society, Soil, space, spinach, steer, summer, table eating, tolerant, turnips, Varieties, vegetable, veggies, winter on January 26, 2012 |
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This is your last chance to plant more rounds of winter veggies you love the most, and the littles that grow year round. Peas are especially heat sensitive, but we Coastie pea lovers can get one more round! At this time be sure they are mildew resistant varieties! But it’s really time to think in terms of those summer treats you love too! Space is an issue now unless you have fields! Those of us in 10’ X 20’ Community Garden plots need to reserve space and prepare those soils. I plant some of the smaller border plants, like lettuces, where they will be on the sunny side, then add the bigger plants that need more heat behind them in March.
Plant LETTUCE, beets, brocs, cabbages, cauliflower, celery, chard, kale, kohlrabi, potatoes, radish, spinach, turnips. Asparagus and artichoke bare-root. Or put in asparagus from seed in March.
Clean things up. Prune your trees, remove dead wood in your herbs. Divide clumps of Society garlic. On ground that needs more humus, lay down some bagged steer or well aged horse manure, let the rains wash the nutrients down, in about 2 months dig it in.
Continue with your harvesting, sidedress your producing plants, do your snail prevention. After rains, foliar apply another batch of aspirin – stimulates growth, boosts the immune system, and baking soda and powdered milk to boost their immune system and act as a germicides. Don’t forget to add a dash of liquid soap to make the mix stick! Hold off on watering for a few days to let the potion do its job. Your plants will thrive!
Select your plants Mindfully! This takes more than a quick trip to the Nursery and buying whatever they have on hand. But, hey, if that’s all the time you have, then go for it! If you have the time, do some quick online comparisons at Universities that specialize in Mediterranean climates. Check out this year’s All America Selections! Ask at your local nursery why the varieties they have are their choices.
- What pests or diseases did your plants have last year? Select for resistance or tolerance.
- Is that plant heat tolerant, bolt resistant?
- What is the disease or pest cycle? Can you plant at another time, just a few weeks later to avoid them?!
- Is it a long producing pole plant, or a heavy one-time bush producer?
- How much space will that amazing plant take up versus it’s return?
- Is that variety better for canning or table eating?
- Do you want a hybrid, or will you be seed saving and need an heirloom that plants true year to year? In a community garden, with all kinds of plants close together, few true seeds can be saved.
Start Your Seedlings! If you have a greenhouse, and it can be a very small humble enclosure, even a row cover setup, start your seedlings now to plant mid to late March! At home? Easy! Use flats, peat pots, six packs, punctured-for-drainage plastic containers reused from your kitchen. Sterilized potting soil holds moisture and is easy for tiny roots to penetrate. Put them in your greenhouse or with grow lights 7 to 10 inches above, on 14 to 16 hours a day. Put a plant heating pad underneath, a heat cable, or a moisture protected 15/20 watt bulb in a ‘trouble light,’ for warmth, 70 degrees F. For better germination, spray aspirin on your seeds before planting! Another great trick is seed soaking and presprouting!
When they are ready, let them sit outdoors in the daytime shade for a week, then in the sun for a week, then all day the 3rd week. That process is called hardening off. The beauty of seeds is you can get the very best plants, and varieties your nursery doesn’t carry!
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Posted in All Season Plants, Bean, Beets, Broccoli, Community Gardens, Corn, Cucumber, Disease, Eggplant, Harvest, Lettuce, Melon, Pepper, Pests, Radish, Seeds, SeedSaving, Squash, Tomato, Veggies!, Watering, Watermelon, tagged abundance, all season, Aubergine, baking, basket, bean, beets, birds, blossom, bolt, brinjal, broccoli, bugs, can, cantaloupe, carrot, cob, compost, corn, crisp, crookneck, crop, cucumber, cuke, damage, dill, disease, dry, eggplant, elders, farm, Foodbank, freeze, fresh, fridge, garden, green, growth, hairy, harvest, herbs, Hollister, husband, hybrid, India, Indira, juice, kernel, leaf, lettuce, Mahanandi, mice, Modoc, Neighborhood Food Exchange, organic, overripe, pepper, pest, pickle, pickling, Pilgrim Terrace, pod, Portesuello, preserve, pull, radish, recipe, Red, refrigerate, salad, Santa Barbara, seed, seedy, share, shiny, shouldersoil, side shoot, silk, slip, small, spade fork, split, squash, starch, steam, stew, stuffing, summer, sweat equity, temple, tender, tendril, thump, tomatoes, traditional, veggies, Vijay, water, watermelon, white, wilt, winter, zucchini, zuch on July 15, 2011 |
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Yummerlicous basket of summer veggies grown near Mahanandi, a peaceful temple town in India. Indira and her Husband Vijay share the traditional recipes of their families. Brinjals, btw, are eggplants!
Each of your plants has special harvest needs and techniques to get continuing excellent returns!
- Be gentle in closely planted areas. Leaf damage opens your plant to diseases and pests. Breaking off new tender shoots stops that point of growth.
- Harvest when your plants are dry, before you water, to reduce disease spread.
Beets Pull when they are small and tender. Steam the leaves too.
Broccoli Though thought of as a winter crop, All Season brocs are perkin’ right along, prolific with side shoots! Keep them picked to keep them coming. Get them to the fridge ASAP because they wilt fast.
Cantaloupe is ready when it ‘slips’ from the plant – no pulling, it just comes off in your hand.
Corn is ripe when the silks turn crispy brown, and the juice is white when you pierce a kernel with your finger nail. Corn pretty much comes in all at once. Get ready to feast, invite friends! Corn turns starchy immediately, so get it to the fridge, or into that boiling water ASAP! Cut the kernels off the cob to sprinkle over salads, freeze for winter stews.
Carrots Poke around with your finger to see if the shoulder, the top of the carrot, is the size you want. Loosen the soil with a spade fork if necessary, pull, rinse, eat! I mean take them home to share with your family! If they are hairy and forked, your soil was too rich. If the shoulders are green, they needed to have been covered with soil.
Cucumbers! Harvest at will. Your choice, but big ones can be seedy. And if you wait too long, the plant thinks it’s done and stops producing. Harvesting smaller is better. Keep your cucs well watered – they make a watery fruit. Pickle some! Grow dill beside them to be ready for pickling.
Eggplant, Aubergine. Shiny. When they are shiny and they don’t spring back when you press them. The more you clip, the more you get. Another no-store-on-the-plant!
Green Beans Or any kind of bean! Pick, pick, pick, carefully so as not to damage your plant, to keep them coming! Pick when the leaves are dry, so you don’t spread diseases, and before the pods get bumpy.
Lettuces Crisp summer lettuce salads hit the spot! Pick the leaves last, just before you head for the fridge. Keep taking the lower leaves. If your plant starts to bolt (grow upward), take the whole plant right away unless you want it to seed for you, otherwise, it’s compost.
Peppers! When they are big and they’ve got that great pepper shape! Peppers have a specific number they reach and they won’t make any more until you pick some!
Radish Keep them well watered for fast growth, pull before they split. They are usually a bit hotter in summer.
Summer Squash (zucchini, crookneck, etc.) Cut them off at your preference, but when it’s hot, keep a watch under those leaves! Giant squash sap the strength from your plant and keep younger fruit from developing. Harvest small for salad slices. When you find a giant hiding, use it for stuffing and baking. If you are getting too many, pick the blossoms off to slow them down; eat the blossoms!
See ALL about SQUASH at On The Green Farms!
Tomatoes! Red on the vine, before the bugs, birds or mice get them.
Watermelon When the tendrils start to dry and the bottom of the melon turns creamy color. If it makes a dull sound when you thump it, it’s overripe.
SEEDS! Seeds are another kind of harvest! Let your best plants flower and seed. Collect those seeds for planting next year! But not the seeds of hybrids or corn unless your corn in no way can hybridize with anyone else’s corn!
Preserve! If you have a great abundance, start preserving! Dry, freeze, can!
Share! Have extra tomatoes, beans, cukes, zuchs, and you don’t have time or inclination to preserve?! Share your abundance! Here’s how!
- Give to Pilgrim Terrace residents! Take your veggies to the office 8 AM to 5 PM (Modoc/Portesuello). They watch the garden for us, so it’s good payback! The elders really appreciate fresh veggies and herbs!
- Santa Barbara County’s Foodbank Drop off M-F 7 AM – 3:30 PM at 4554 Hollister Av.
- Share at weekend Neighborhood Food Exchanges! Dates and locations
Thanks for your generosity when so many really need your kindness. Just a quick stop among your errands….
Organic garden-fresh produce can’t be beat! Enjoy every life-giving luscious bite!
Next week: August in Your Garden!
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Posted in Amendments, Baking Soda, Bean, Community Gardens, Compost, Cucumber, Disease, Eggplant, Epsom Salt, Fertilizer - Sidedressing, Foliar Feeding, Fertilzer, Fish - Kelp, Germinate, Green Beans, Home Remedies, Legumes - Peas, Beans, Fava, Manure, Melon, Mildew, Nonfat Powdered Milk, NPK - Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium, Peas, Pepper, Potato, Pumpkins, Seeds, Squash, Summer Plants - Warm Season, Teas- Compost, Manure, Worm, Time of Year, Tomato, Veggies!, Watermelon, Worm Castings, tagged 18 Karat Gold, alkaline, Ambassador, amino, ATTRA, baking, bean, bicarbonate, Care, casting, caution, cell, chlorophyll, compost, cucumber, cucurbit, disease, dish, Diva, Dramm, eggplant, emulsion, enzyme, epsom, eyes, fertilizer, fish, foliar, fruit, fungal spore, fungicide, garden, germicide, germination, Gladiator, growth, healthy, humid, immune, inhibit, insecticidal, kelp, leaf, leaf blight, liquid, magnesium, manure, milk, mite, Nitrogen, nonfat, nontoxic, nuts, oil, pepper, pest, pesticide, phosphorus, phytotoxic, Plant, pm, powdered, powdery mildew, prevention, protein, psyllid, pumpkin, rose, rot, rust, salad, salt, seed, skin, soap, soda, sodium, solanaceae, spray, squash, Success, sulfate, sulfur, summer, Sunglo zucchini, Sunray, surfactant, tea, thrips, tomatillo, tomato, uptake, veggie, Vitamin, Wildcat, worm, yellow on June 24, 2011 |
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Foliar plant care is so easy!
Use a Dramm Can, the Perfect Foliar Machine!
Worm Castings, Compost, Manure Tea, Fish Emulsion/Kelp for FEEDING – All in ONE!
You can easily make this tea! A handful of castings, a handful to a cup of compost, handful of manure, stir and let them soak overnight in a bucket. In the morning, swoosh it around in the bucket one more time, let it settle, then pour the top liquid into your watering can, the one with the up turning rose. Add a Tablespoon Fish Emulsion/Kelp, mix, and drench your plants in the morning! Yum!
Epsom Salts, Magnesium Sulfate, Your Solanaceaes, Peppers especially, and Roses!
Magnesium is critical for seed germination and the production of chlorophyll, fruit, and nuts. Magnesium helps strengthen cell walls and improves plants’ uptake of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. Magnesium deficiency in the soil may be one reason your tomato leaves yellow between the leaf veins late in the season and fruit production slows down.
Sulfur, a key element in plant growth, is critical to production of vitamins, amino acids (therefore protein), and enzymes. Sulfur is probably the oldest known pesticide in current use. It can be used for disease control (e.g., powdery mildews, rusts, leaf blights, and fruit rots), and pests like mites, psyllids and thrips. Sulfur is nontoxic to mammals, but may irritate skin or especially eyes. Sulfur has the potential to damage plants in hot (90°F and above), dry weather. It is also incompatible with other pesticides. Do not use sulfur within 20 to 30 days on plants where spray oils have been applied; it reacts with the oils to make a more phytotoxic combination.
Epsom Salts are easy to do! Buy some Epsom Salts, what you soak your feet in, at the grocery store, mix a tablespoon per gallon, foliar feed! Foliar feeding is simply sprinkling leaves with your solutions, and works better than applying to the soil! Get a Dramm 5 liter long snouted watering can that has a turnable sprinkler head. That long spout comes in handy, reaching well into your plant! Turn the head so the water shoots up under the leaves then falls back on the tops! The long arc of the handle gives lots of maneuvering ability! Feed your plants once when they bloom, and again ten days later. The results, attributed to magnesium in the salts, are larger plants, more flowers, more fruit, thicker walled peppers! I use this mix on all my Solanaceaes: eggplant, pepper, tomato, tomatillo. Roses love it too!
Baking Soda & Nonfat Powdered Milk for PREVENTION!
The bicarbonate of soda makes the leaf surface alkaline and this inhibits the germination of fungal spores. Baking soda prevents and reduces Powdery Mildew, and many other diseases on veggies, roses, and other plants! It kills PM within minutes. It can be used on roses every 3 to 4 days, but do your veggie plants every 5 to 10 days, or after significant rains, as the plant grows, because these new plant tissues are not yet protected yet by your fungicide. Irrigate well 2 days before use; on a sunny day spray off as much of the PM as you can from plants in sunny locations. A heaping Tablespoon baking soda to a gallon of water, with a 1/2 Teaspoon of a surfactant - insecticidal or dish soap or salad oil, does the job. It is not effective without the surfactant to spread it and make it stick. You can add a liquid fertilizer with it if you want. Cautions: 1) I have had no trouble using it on my veggies, but it may burn the leaves of some other plants, so try it on a few leaves first. 2) Don’t apply during hot midday sun that can burn the leaves. 3) Avoid over use – it is a sodium, salt. For a definitive discussion of Baking Soda usage and research, see https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/bakingsoda.html. The article is an easy read, nicely summarized, has references, includes cautions and info on commercial preparations. Best of all is to plant powdery mildew resistant varieties:
- Cucumber: Diva
- Yellow Summer Squash: Success, Sunray, Sunglo
- Zucchini: Ambassador, Wildcat
- Pumpkin: 18 Karat Gold, Gladiator
Add nonfat powdered milk to your Baking Soda fungicide! Powdered milk is a natural germicide, boosts your plant’s immune system! Apply right away on young bean plants, all your cucurbits – cucs, zuchs, any mildew prone plant. A 1/4 c milk in your gallon of water. Get under those leaves, early morning so the leaves dry and the habitat is less humid.
Healthy plants and abundant production are so rewarding! Just take a few minutes to give your plants a boost with these simple treatments! Whether Dramm, or another can, get yourself a good one! Make it easy to get up under those leaves! Otherwise, you are treating only 1/2 your plant!
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Posted in Aphids, Arugula, Bean, Beets, Broccoli, Bunch onions, Celery, Chard, Cucumber, Disease, Eggplant, Fungus, Fusarium Wilt, Garlic, Green Beans, Greens, Kale, Legumes - Peas, Beans, Fava, Lettuce, Mildew, Onion, Parsley, Peas, Pests, Strawberries, Summer Plants - Warm Season, Tomato, Veggies!, Verticillium Wilt, Watering, White Fly, tagged AM, aphids, arugula, beans, beets, broccoli, bulb, bunch onions, burn, can, celery, chard, coastal, cucumbers, da Vinci, daily, disease, drink, drop, drown, dry, eggplant, end, evening, fast, flavor, flies, flower, flush, fruit, fungi, fungus, fusarium, fuzzy, garlic, grow, growth, hot, inch, irregular, kale, kill, leaf crops, leaves, leonardo, lettuce, micro, midday, mildew, misshapen, moist, mulch, nature, onions, organism, overwater, oxygen, Peas, pest, production, root, season, seed, seedling, shade, shallow, SoCal, Soil, spot, squash, stop, strawberries, structure, summer, sweet, tender, tomato, transplant, underneath, verticillium, water, weather, week, white, wilt, windy on June 9, 2011 |
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Water is the driver of Nature. - Leonardo da Vinci
When, Who, How, & How Much to Water
Midday, on a hot day, watering will burn the leaves.
Evening watering promotes mildew, fungus growth. Plants drink during the day, so AM watering is best.
Plants that need little or no water and why:
Onions, garlic, that are flowering, going to bulb, needing to dry
End of season tomatoes that you want to have a stronger flavor
Tomatoes in soil with Fusarium and Verticillium Wilt fungi in the soil. Fungi don’t do well in dry soil.
Plants that need water almost daily, sometimes twice daily
Shallow rooted beans, beets, bunch onions, cucumbers, peas, strawberries
Celery and chard, lettuce, arugula – leaf crops, to keep them growing fast, tender and tasting sweet.
Planted seeds, seedlings, newly planted transplants, must be kept moist; if they dry, they die. Put up temporary shade.
Use a watering can for seeds and tender seedlings so seeds aren’t washed away or seedlings broken.
Most plants need only an inch of water once a week unless it is hot and/or windy weather. Most gardeners over water by two times as much as is needed! Overwatering drowns plants, and kills micro soil organisms; they don’t get oxygen. Soil structure is destroyed as air spaces cave in. Overwatering also causes poor root growth making it difficult to move enough water to the leaves during hot weather.
Irregular watering results in misshapen fruits, tomato flower drop, can stop production
Fuzzy plants like tomatoes, eggplant, don’t do well with watering on their leaves. Water underneath please.
Plants that are mulched generally need less water. Poke your finger in the soil to see how deeply it is moist. More on mulching next week.
Water and Pests & Diseases
Overhead watering contributes to mildew on beans, squash, peas. It spreads Strawberry Leaf Spot and other waterborne diseases
Tomatoes: stop watering when about a foot tall. Water around them, but not right at them. Keep back about a 2’ perimeter to reduce Fusarium and Verticillium Wilt fungi. If you do water them, on mature plants, cut off the lower leaves, up to 18” high, to prevent soil splash when watering. The fungi are especially taken up by leaves touching the ground.
Flush off aphids and the undersides of broccoli leaves and broc side shoots, kale leaves, especially the curly varieties.
Flush white flies from the undersides of broccoli leaves, kale, beans
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Posted in Amendments, Antioxidant, Bat - Seabird Guano, Birds, Community Gardens, Disease, Fertilzer, Fish - Kelp, Manure, Nutrition Specifics, Pests, Seeds, SeedSaving, Skunks, Snails & Slugs, Strawberries, Veggies!, Watering, tagged 0-10-10, 200, abundant, alpine, Angular, antioxidant, Barker, barrier, bee, berry, bird, black, blight, bloom, blueberries, bread, Bright, bug, bunnies, cake, California, cat-faced, certified, Chandler, cheese, cheesecake, chewed, chicken, chocolate, chocolatier, circulation, climate, close, cloudy, cluster, cold, commercial, common, community, cones, cool, cosmetic, cream, critter, cucumber, daughter, David, Davis, day neutral, daybreak, debris, dipped, disease, distant, dry, early, earth, emulsion, everbearer, fall, family, feed, fertilizer, fiber, fish, flat, flight, flower, forage, fruit, fungicide, fungus, garden, growth, grub, guano, hands, harvest, height, hive, hole, hot, humidity, hungry, ice cream, inside, Integrated Pest Management, IPM, irregular, July, June, kelp, large, leaf, Leaf Spot, leaves, lemonade, local, Lygus Hesperus, mammoth, manganese, manure, misshapen, mulch, multiple, Muskmelon, N, NCSU, net, Nitrogen, noon, November, Nursery, nutrition, October, open, order, Oso Grande, out, overwater, peck, perimeter, phosphorus, pie, Pilgrim Terrace, pine needle, plastic, plump, pollination, pollinator, possum, potassium, produce, pumpkin, raccoon, Rebecca, Red, reliable, relocate, remove, resistant, root, rose, runner, sauce, saving, seabird, Seascape, seeds, set, shade, shake, shape, shortcake, silvery, skunk, slime, slug, sluggo, small, snail, SoCal, Soil, Southern, split, spot, spray, spread, spring, spring bearer, squash, state, storms, strawberries, sun, sunday, super, Syrah, Tarnished, tasty, temp, thrive, tip, tips, traditional, trail, trellis, UC, under, uproot, uptake, US, USDA, variety, vegetable, Vitamin C, warm, wash, water, watermelon, weather, weight, well-drained, western, whipped, wind, wire, worm, yellow, yield, yoghurt on June 2, 2011 |
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- Strawberries are in the Rose family.
- The average berry has 200 seeds, the only fruit whose seeds are on its exterior surface! The seeds are really the fruit!
- Usually grown from runner daughters, they will grow from seed. Just throw down caps you bit the berry from. Sooner or later, you will have a plant you didn’t ‘plant.’ Strawberry seed saving is simple.
- Eight out of 10 strawberries grown in the U.S. are grown in California!
- Strawberries came in second to blueberries in the USDA’s analysis of antioxidant capacity of 40 fruits and vegetables. They are also rich in dietary fiber and manganese, and contain more vitamin C than any other berry.
Image courtesy of StrawberryPlants.org
When do I plant strawberries? Not now, NOVEMBER 1 to 10! Yes, it’s that specific for winter chill at the perfect time! They start producing runners now, but cut them off until early July! Then let them grow, and cut off the new baby plants mid October for November planting. Or, just let them grow to fill spots where, for one reason or another, a plant has gone missing, needs replacing, and/or another could fit in. When those needs are taken care of, cut off the rest of the runners. These runner plant babies will grow so fast you will be getting berries from them late summer and fall if you have everbearers/day neutral types!!
My plant isn’t producing….
Variety - If it is an everbearer, day neutral, variety it will produce almost all year. June/spring bearers put out a prolific batch in June, then it’s over. No amount of care or feeding is going to make that plant have berries after June. Sorry. Best to get the varieties your local nursery carries. Or talk with them about special ordering well in advance, so they can get the ones you want.
Temps – cold weather slows down pollinators.
Shaded – believe me, strawberries like all-day sun! If you are going to tuck them in among other plants, be sure to put them on the sunny side!
Hungry – think about it! A strawberry plant is often pumping out several berries at a time! They are using up soil nutrition, so feed them! Try a light solution of fish emulsion/kelp every other week over some sprinkled seabird guano or a well aged manure. Give your strawberries a little fertilizer in the 0-10-10 proportions; that’s lots of phosphorus and potassium for strong roots and uptake of nutrients, blooms and fruits!
Water - don’t let them dry out, they will stop producing. This month they tend to grow more leaves, send out runners. Clip off the runners for now, so they don’t take your plant’s energy away from producing berries, unless you want more plants right away.
Mulching is good. They love pine needle mulch, if you have some about, because they prefer slightly acidic soil. Drape your berries over pine cones to keep them off the ground, out of the slug zone.
Age – First year plants and 3rd year plants don’t produce as well.
My berries are really tiny! Strawberry varieties vary from mammoth chocolatiers, to midget but mighty tasty alpines. If it isn’t a variety issue, it may be diseased. See below please.
Misshapen berries or split in two sections with a hole in the center
Irregular watering Your berry grows fast when it has water, then is restricted when it doesn’t….
Western Tarnished Plant Bugs, feed on the flowers and developing surface seeds that stimulate growth causing misshapen berries, hard clusters of yellow seeds on the tip of the fruit. Clean up debris. Once you see this, you are too late to prevent it any further. Bummer. UC Davis IPM Integrated Pest Management on Lygus Hesperus. Image of typical cat-faced berries.
Pollination Strawberry flowers are usually open and attractive to bees only a day or less. Temperatures below 60F, low night temperatures, & high humidity result in inadequate pollination, low yields of small or misshapen fruit. Strawberries require multiple pollination for perfect fruit formation. Generally, as the number of pollinator visits increases, there will be an increase in fruit set, number of seed per fruit, fruit shape, and fruit weight. ABOUT BEES: per NCSU ‘Bees rarely fly when the temperature is below 55°F. Flights seldom intensify until the temperature reaches 70°F. Wind speed beyond 15 miles per hour seriously slows bee activity. Cool, cloudy weather and threatening storms greatly reduce bee flights. In poor weather, bees foraging at more distant locations will remain in the hive, and only those that have been foraging nearby will be active. Pumpkin, squash, and watermelon flowers normally open around daybreak and close by noon; whereas, cucumbers, strawberries, and muskmelons generally remain open the entire day.’ So if the weather isn’t right THE DAY OR MORNING your flower opens…..
Whole plant has yellow leaves. The most common cause is nutrient deficiencies due to overwatering. Overwatering causes poor root growth making it difficult to move enough water to the leaves during hot weather. Lay back on watering; give your babies some Nitrogen –fish emulsion/kelp.
Pecked If birds are pecking your berries, put bird netting or a wire dome over them.
Rebecca & David Barker, Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden, Plot 41, staked the chicken wire in place, push it up to harvest, down to just the right height when done!
Holes in them, Chewed Silvery slime trails are the giveaway! Use the pine cones to drape your berries over to keep them off the ground. Put down some Sluggo or the like, to kill off night-time nibblers, slugs, snails. Harvest regularly before the berry gets soft and smelly, just before the buglets are attracted! Those little black pointy worms? I’m trying to find out what they are. If you know, let me know, ok?!
Uprooted Sad to say, that sounds like ‘possums, raccoon, or skunk. They are looking for your earth worms or grubs. Just like bunnies, these critters won’t jump a low barrier. They just go around it. So install a foot tall perimeter of wire pieces, black plastic plant flats, old trellis parts, whatever you have around, or go get something that looks good to you so you will be happy. Relocating the critters is a good choice because, they do have children, that have children, that…
Strawberry Diseases StrawberryPlants.org for full list of diseases. Here’s a link to the 3 Most common leaf diseases with images.
Angular Leaf Spot – exactly that. Spotted leaves. A cosmetic problem until it isn’t. Your plant will produce, but it won’t thrive. Spread by water, harvest before you water, water under the leaves, remove badly spotted leaves, don’t use them as mulch, wash your hands before going on to another plant.
Strawberry Blight – the fungus is often confused with angular leaf spot, overwinters in old leaves, remove them. Remove old leaves from runner plants before setting. All day sun, well-drained soil, in an area with circulation, equals less fungus. For good air circulation, plant far enough apart, remove weeds, remove, replant and/or give away runner baby sets. Plant resistant varieties for your area of your state. Discussion of SoCal varieties. When you buy new plants be sure they are certified from a disease-free nursery. If you use a fungicide, spray the underside of leaves as well as the tops.
Successful SoCal varieties!
Chandler is the most widely commercially grown strawberry in California. High yield, early producer, large southern berry. It’s a June bearer, so if you want year round supply, this is not your berry.
Seascape is an ever-bearing, big day neutral, all year strawberry, harvests are more abundant in late spring. High yield, resistant to most diseases except leaf spot. Reliable producer in fall, performs well in hot, dry climates. Berry is bright red inside and out!
Oso Grande Another June bearer, high yield big berry, good in warm climates.
Eat your red plump strawberries! Fresh from your garden, strawberry Sundae, strawberry sauce, strawberry pie, cake, bread, strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, yoghurt, cream cheese, cheesecake, strawberry shake, chocolate dipped, strawberry lemonade, strawberry Syrah, and, as always, the traditional, Strawberry Shortcake!!
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Posted in Arugula, Basil, Bean, Beets, Biodiversity, Carrot, Chard, Cilantro, Corn, Cucumber, Design - Layout, Eggplant, Green Beans, Herbs - Culinary, Medicinal Food Magic!, Jicama, Lettuce, Melon, Okra, Pepper, Pumpkins, Radish, Squash, Succession, Summer Plants - Warm Season, Time of Year, Tomato, Turnip, Watermelon, tagged April, August, basil, beans, beets, camping, carrots, chard, cilantro, cook, cool, corn, cucs, cucumber, decrease, dehydrate, fall, family, flower, frost, gardener, growth, harvest, heat, hibiscus, hollyhock, hot, jambalaya, jicama, June, may, melons, mid-June, month, New Zealand, night, October, okra, peppers, planting, pod, production, pumpkins, radish, raw, salad, seeds, snack, spinach, squashes, star, steam, stew, store, succession, summer, tomatoes, traditional, transplants, turnips, weather, winter, year round on May 31, 2011 |
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June is another grand month for planting, more heat, fast growth. Plant in spots that have already finished; plant for succession, a continued harvest of your favorites! If you couldn’t take advantage of April or May, step up to it now! Seeds are good, transplants are faster if your summer palate is salivating! Hotties like corn, cucs, beans, jicama, melons, okra, peppers, pumpkins, New Zealand spinach, all squashes! I’ve planted corn in August and got great October corn! Plant tasty year-rounds – beets, carrots, chard, cilantro, radish, turnips. Tomatoes with basils now and next month. More tomatoes if you will be dehydrating for camping, winter stews, snacks. Try something new –maybe something you can’t get at the store!
Why are we discussing okra in June? Because it is time to plant okra seed for fall gardens. Depending on the variety, first pods are ready for harvest about 2 months after planting. If you plant in mid-June, you will not harvest until mid-August. If you wait until later, cool nights will decrease production. Of course, many gardeners have okra already growing that will continue to produce until frost. If these plants are too tall, they should now be cut back to a height of 4 feet so that re-branching and production will occur before cool weather arrives. If you are an okra lover, it’s double your pleasure because it is in the hibiscus/hollyhock family and makes breathtakingly lovely flowers! Okra is like little stars in a salad; you cut it in thin slices across the raw pod. Or cook it traditionally, steamed, in stew, jambalaya over rice, or deep fried. If you are driving through Mojave, there’s a restaurant on the main drag that fries it to perfection! Perhaps the most important thing to know is okra has to be harvested while small to medium, while tender. Otherwise, you end up with an unchewable tough monster. Big is not better, trust me.
Biodiversity really works! Mix it up, spread out your plantings. Solid blocks (except for corn for pollination) of one plant or overplanting same kind plants in leaf touching rows are particularly susceptible to pest and disease spread, gopher loss. Lose one, lose ‘em all. To further confuse pests, pop in some herbs, basil with tomatoes, marigolds, as an understory in the between spaces! Grow arugula and lettuces in the shade of your mighty corn!
Two on one trellis! Check out the good size dark cucumbers hanging, and the ‘hammock’ supported melons!
Enjoy your luscious harvests!
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Posted in Bat - Seabird Guano, Blood Meal, Bone Meal, Chard, Compost, Disease, Eggplant, Epsom Salt, Fertilizer - Sidedressing, Foliar Feeding, Fertilzer, Fish - Kelp, Lettuce, Manure, Mycorrhizae, Nonfat Powdered Milk, NPK - Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium, Pepper, Pests, Potato, Seeds, Soil, Summer Plants - Warm Season, Tomato, Worm Castings, tagged abundant, acid, bat, bigger, bloodmeal, bloom, blossom, bone meal, calcium, casting, chicken, copost, decompose, deodorized, disease, drench, earth, eggplant, end, epsom, Epsom Salt, farmer, fertilizer, filaments, fish, flower, foliar, fruit, fungi, garden, germicide, gold, granules, growth, guano, hole, hormone, humic, hydrolyzed, immune, island seed & feed, keep, kelp, lettuce, magnesium sulfate, manure, maxicrop, milk, mulch, mycelium, mycorrhizal, N, Nitrogen, nonfat, NPK, nutrient, pathogen, pepper, pest, Phosphorous, Plant, potato, powder, powdered, predators, productive, root, rot, Rumi, salt, seabird, set, shock, sidedress, Soil, solanaceae, spray, start, steer, stinky, summer, suppression, system, thicker, tomatillo, tomato, transplant, uptake, vibrant, walled, water, weed, wise, worm on March 5, 2011 |
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Fine Bright Lights Chard
To start, especially tomatoes, 4 things!
- First, throw a big handful of bone meal in your planting hole and mix it in with your soil. Bone meal is high in Phosphorous (for blooming) and takes 6 to 8 weeks before it starts working – perfect timing! It is also high in calcium, which helps prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes. Water regularly or it won’t help. Fine ground bone meal releases quicker, coarse ground lasts longer.
- Second, throw in a handful of nonfat powdered milk! It’s also high in calcium, that your plant can uptake right away, but more importantly, it is a natural germicide, and boosts your plant’s immune system!!!
- And what about tossing in some worm castings? They have special plant-growth hormones in the humic acids of the castings.
- This is indirect, but makes sense. Sprinkle mycorrhizal fungi ON the roots of your transplants when you plant them! To live, the fungi need the sugars the roots give. The fungi, in turn, make a wonderful web of filaments, mycelium, that work in harmony with your plant, increasing its uptake of nutrients and water, reducing transplant shock, and helps with disease and pathogen suppression! One of the great things mycorrhiza does is assist Phosphorus uptake. Of the NPK on fertilizers, P is Phosphorus that helps roots and flowers grow and develop. Buy them fresh at Island Seed & Feed. Ask them, they will weigh out whatever amount you want. A quarter pound would be $4.99 (2-24-11/Matt). Mycorrhiza & Farmers video
When your plants start blooming
- Sidedress them with seabird quano (NOT bat guano) that is high in phosphorus, stimulates blooms, more blooms! More blooms, more tomatoes!
- Foliar drench or spray with Epsom Salt mix – 1 Tablespoon/watering can. Fastest way to feed plant, and often the most efficient, is to foliar feed it. Epsom Salt, right from your grocery store or pharmacy, is high in magnesium sulfate. Peppers love it too. It really gives your plants a boost, and fruits are bigger, peppers are thicker walled. I drench all my Solanaceaes – toms, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, tomatillos – with Epsom salt. Some say apply 1 tablespoon of granules around each transplant, or spray a solution of 1 tablespoon Epsom salt per gallon of water at transplanting, first flowering, and fruit set.
Fish/kelp mixes are for light feeding, are well balanced, but stinky, even when the fish emulsion is deodorized. If you want a more potent mix, use the hydrolyzed powder. Maxicrop is great stuff!
Along the way, if leaves start yellowing, green ‘em up quick with emergency doctoring! Bloodmeal! It’s very high in quickly usable Nitrogen (N). Dig it lightly into the top soil, water well. Be aware, it and fish/kelp mixes are stinky and bring predators.
Give everybody a little manure, dig into the top 6” of soil, but only on two sides of your plant. We want most of the near-the-surface roots to be undisturbed. Steer manure is cheap. Chicken stores in less space per what it can do, but it can be hot (burn your plants’ roots), so go lightly with it. Lettuces like manures. Compost is good stuff but sometimes not strong enough on N. Sometimes you can get FREE compost from the city.
Again, indirect, but organic mulch not only keeps your soil cool, moist and weed free, but feeds your soil as it decomposes. Apply coarse mulch that decomposes slowly so it doesn’t use up your plants’ Nitrogen in the decomposition process.
Well fed and maintained plants are more disease and pest resistant, are lusty and productive – they pay back with abundant larger tasty fruits and potent seeds for the next generation!
“Earth turns to Gold in the hands of the Wise” Rumi
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Posted in Baking Soda, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Fertilizer - Sidedressing, Foliar Feeding, Lettuce, Mildew, Nonfat Powdered Milk, Peas, Raised Beds, Seeds, Snails & Slugs, Strawberries, Watering, tagged after, air, anticipate, arm-chair, baking, bed, before, book, broccoli, cauliflower, circulation, clean, close, compost, container, crunchy, Day, disease, drainage, drench, dry, during, environment, erode, fast, fertilize, foliage, garden, ground, growth, harvest, lettuce, magazine, manure, mature, micro, mildew, milk, mix, mud, mulch, nonfat, overhead, Peas, Plant, potting, powdered, prevention, prune, quick, rain, rainwater, rainy, raise, resistant, secure, seed, shovel, slug, sluggo, snail, soda, Soil, soilless, space, spatter, splash, stake, strawberries, tall, thin, tie, tips, topple, trellis, warm, water, web, weight, wind, worm on December 18, 2010 |
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- Rainy Day Harvesting!
Fertilize before a rain so the fertilizer will soak in.
Take the cover off your compost to let it get wet.
Tie or stake plants that may topple from wind or weight.
Set up to harvest rainwater for later use!
Make raised beds, mounds, to help with drainage issues.
Mulch to keep soil from splashing up on your plants, keeping your harvest clean, holding water in place to soak in, and keep soil from eroding.
Make ‘permanent’ pathways with boards, stepping stones, straw bedding, so you won’t be compacting your planting area soil when it is wet or dry!
Plant for air circulation so foliage dries quickly. Plants too closely spaced, make a warmer micro environment, tend to get mildew easier.
Choose mildew resistant plants!
Drench your young plants with a mix of a heaping tablespoon of baking soda, a 1/4 cup of nonfat (so it won’t rot and stink) powdered milk in a large watering can of water for mildew prevention and abatement. It works for certain other diseases as well!
Water less frequently and at ground level, not overhead.
During a rainy period….
If you didn’t before, get out there in your rain gear and add some manure or fertilizer! Great excuse to play in the rain!
Check frequently to see how your plants are doing. Secure any tall plants, trellises that need it.
If a plant is too low and in standing water, raise it. Put your shovel deep under it, put some filler soil underneath the shovel!
Add more mulch if it has shifted or wasn’t quite deep enough to keep mud spatter from your plants.
Be sure your wormbox worms are not doing the backstroke!
Rebuild any drainage channel that has weakened, clear if clogged.
Make sure all your rain harvest system is working well. Kudos to you for harvesting!
Practice arm-chair gardening! Read garden books, magazines, browse web sites, buy some seeds from mail-order catalogs, design your new garden layout!
Get some seeds, soilless potting mix, gather containers with, or make, drainage holes. Start some seeds!
If the rain is prolonged, uh, do an aphid, snail and slug check as frequently as you can. Sluggo works on snails and slugs even when it is wet. Hard to believe, but, yes, it does.
If the rain is prolonged, do harvest your fresh and crunchy produce! Lettuces will flourish! Check on fast maturing broccoli and cauliflower heads to cut at peak maturity! Gather your luscious strawberries. Keep your peas picked to keep them coming!
After the rain! YES!
Do some thinning for air circulation as makes sense. Often there is a growth spurt, and you can see where thinning is needed.
Repair areas where soil has washed away exposing roots. Put some mulch on.
It’s often warmer after a rain, and it is the warmth that mildew loves! Drench mildew susceptible plants with your mildew mix immediately, early in the day so your plants can dry. If you prune mildewed areas off, remove those prunings, wash your hands and pruners before you go on to other plants.
Do what you do about snails and slugs. Keep checking for aphids – blast them away with water or remove infested leaves.
There is often more gopher activity after rain has softened the soil, so be ready!
In later days, after the rain, harvest first, water second! That’s the rule to keep from spreading diseases spread by moisture.
Enjoy the superlative rapid growth of your very happy plants!
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Posted in Bolt Resistant/Slow Bolting, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Carrot, Cauliflower, Frost, Freeze, Greenhouse, Kale, Leeks, Parsnip, Varieties, Winter Plants - Cool Season, tagged 32, air, August, basil, black, blanket, bolt, broccoli, Brussels, burlap, cabbage, cage, calm, cauliflower, chair, chaise, clear, clothes, cloud, cold, coldest, compost, cover, crystal, curtain, damage, Day, daybreak, drop, dry, duration, early, eaves, Fahrenheit, farmers, fertilize, floating, forecast, freeze, frost, Greenhouse, growth, hard, harvest, hot-cap, ice, insulate, kale, killing, leeks, lettuce, market, mature, mulch, N, newspaper, night, Nitrogen, northern, onions, parsnip, Peas, pepper, pin, pot, potato, protect, radish, root, row, sale, season, seed, settle, sheet, shop, sprouts, stalk, sugar, summer, sun, survival, tarp, taste, temperature, tender, thrift, time, tomato, towel, tree, trim, under, water, weather, wet, wind, windbreak, winter, yard on December 3, 2010 |
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Cold season things to know about your veggies!
- Fertilize. Healthy plants can withstand more cold. But. From August on, if you anticipate a cold winter, avoid applying fertilizer with Nitrogen, apply at half your summer rate, until after the last frost, to prevent a flush of tender growth that can be damaged by the cold.
- Cool season crops, such as broccoli, cabbage, peas, and onions, originated in northern areas, and can tolerate frost and light freezes of short durations with little damage, plant cold hardy varieties. But other tender morsels often die literal black deaths from killing freezes. Lettuces, your fragrant basil, and peppers are usually the first to go.
- Better taste! Cool-season vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, produce their best flavor when they mature during cool weather. They react to cold conditions and frost by producing sugars, making them taste sweet, especially Brussels sprouts and kale, but also parsnips and leeks! Ask the folks at the farmer’s market stands if their farms have gotten a frost yet – farms in the country often get frost long before the cities.
- Certain vegetables “bolt,” or produce seed stalks, when there are several days at low temperatures.
Frost we understand, but what’s a Hard Freeze?! When temperatures drop below 32° Fahrenheit (0° Centigrade) and remain there for several hours, even only 2 hours will do it, typically killing seasonal vegetation. Several hours at 25 to 28 degrees, ice crystals form not only on your plant, but in your plant, damaging the cell walls. The coldest time of day is just before daybreak. Clouds at night can absorb and reflect heat back to the earth. Wind can mix the ascending warm air with the descending cold air. Calm, clear nights pose the greatest danger of frost. Wind: If it is windy, less worry. Cold air must settle to form frost and any wind will usually prevent this. Or, a wind may dry your plants, making them more susceptible to freezing!
Floating Row Cover, Winter Frost Blanket, over Tomato Cages - see how they are staked in place by the cages?
Frost or freeze survival….
- Watch your weather forecast religiously! Weather has no mercy.
- Water early in the day. Wet soil insulates and protects roots. The water warms up during the day and releases heat slowly during the night. The upper part of a plant may die, but the roots may be strong enough to push up new growth!
- Move frost tender plants under eaves, a spreading tree, into greenhouses, garage. Key word here is UNDER.
- Haunt yard sales, the thrift shop, for old bed sheets, blankets, tablecloths, curtains, towels, shower curtains, burlap sacks, tarps – many end their lives covering garden plants for frost protection! Use newspaper with clothes pins so it won’t blow around. Plastic can be worse than nothing if it touches the plant. Prop up an unused trellis, get creative! Use those wire tomato cages to support your covers! Lay them down among short plants, stand them around taller plants. At home you can lay out a folding chaise lounge chair, or lawn chairs, and cover them!! Secure the edges with stakes, rocks, bricks, or cover with soil. You can use upside down plant pots only if they are large enough that the plant they will cover don’t touch the pot. Put a rock on top to keep it from blowing over! That’s called a hot-cap! The beauty of floating row covers (see image), also called frost or winter blankets, is they can be left in place during the day! Cover the plants mid- to late-afternoon if possible, before temperatures start to drop.
- Set up windbreaks.
- What you can’t cover, that is not frost hardy, harvest. Root crops such as carrots and radishes should be harvested or mulched heavily before a hard freeze.
- If you didn’t cover, wash your plants off before the sun gets on them. Sometimes that will counteract the freeze burn.
- If you did cover, take the covers off, before the sun hits the beds, so everybody can get their sun quotient for the day! Winter days are short!
- Dry out your covers, keep them handy.
- Damaged leaves appear dark green and watersoaked at first, later becoming black. If your plant is totally gone, it’s compost, replace your plant. Except potatoes! They will resprout, give ‘em 10 to 14 days!
- Should you trim the ugly damaged stuff off and give your plant a lot of fertilizer to help it? Whoa, Nelly! That’s a NO! The damaged part is protecting the now undamaged part. If you trim and add a lot of fertilizer, tender new growth will form, and that will be toast if there is another frost or freeze. Wait to trim until no more frost is predicted, feed lightly.
Was that groaning, whining I heard? Stop it. Just go out there and cover your plants, no fooling around, you hear?! You will be glad you did, it’s your plants’ lives you are saving! Besides, reviving is harder than covering. Many will be well past the window for replanting, so cover, cover, cover! Better to have a yard full of ghosts (sheet covers) and look silly, than lose your plant entirely.
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